This month we explore Iceland. Iceland is a Nordic country that is an island. It is the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city in Iceland is Reykjavík and the surrounding southwestern region of the country is home to nearly two-thirds of the population. Icelandic culture comes from its Nordic heritage. The population of Iceland is mostly of Norse and Gaelic descent.

It is said the name of Iceland was given to the country after an explorer spent a winter on the island. He felt it was so cold and harsh, he gave it the name Iceland. However the warm North Atlantic Current brings warmer temperatures to the land than other regions at the same latitude. Iceland has a similar climate to the Alaska Peninsula even though Iceland is further from the equator. Although Iceland is close to the Arctic, its coastline does not have ice. 

Photos from my sister’s trip to Iceland Summer 2013

Icelandic is a North German language that descended from Old Norse.  Danish and English are compulsory languages taught in school and both languages are widely understood and spoken throughout the country. Rather than having family names as is common in the western part of the world, Iceland uses patronymic and matronymic surnames. Patronymic is more common. Patronymic surnames come from the father’s first name. As a result Iceland’s phone books are listed in alphabetical order of first names.

Since the Iceland culture comes from its Nordic heritage, they have many similar myths and legends. With those myth and legends come gods, giants, dwarfs and mermaids. We found some of these stories in some books from the library: World Book Norse Myths and Legends by Philip Ardagh and A Treasury of Mermaids: Mermaid Tales from Around the World by Shirley Climo.

There are also many wonderful stories available about people in Iceland and life in Iceland. Some we found at the library are shown below and many of them are by Bruce McMillan.These stories are a great way to teach a bit more about Iceland to young children.

The only native animal to Iceland before man arrived is the arctic fox. It is believed that he walked to Iceland during the Ice Age. There are occasionally polar bears who visit from Greenland, but do not stay and bats who arrive with strong winds. Neither stay in Iceland or breed there. Iceland does have Icelandic sheep, cattle, Icelandic horses, Icelandic sheepdogs, chickens and goats that are descendants of European farm animals. For wild animals they have rats, mice, mink, rabbits and reindeer and they have harbor seals and grey seals. Fishing is a huge industry in Iceland and there are a wide variety of fish in the surrounding waters.

Iceland’s cuisine consists mostly of fish, lamb and dairy products without use of much spice or seasoning. Due to the climate fruits and vegetables are not a major part of traditional Icelandic food. Coffee is a popular drink in Iceland as is Coca-Cola. 

Sources for this post:

We also have the wonderful Iceland placemat and passport (and of course our passport cover) available to download for free to help teach your children about Iceland. Also please visit the various blogs who link their posts with crafts, recipes and more about Iceland and feel free to link any you have.

This introduction has been created by Crafty Moms Share!

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